Johns, beware

Women dressed like prostitutes fleece men in by posing as undercover cops.

Published January 9, 2001 12:11AM (EST)

You're a middle-aged guy in Canada. Perhaps you're married, or maybe you're just visiting on a business trip. But one thing is certain: You need a prostitute. Pay for play -- oh boy, wouldn't that be nice. Now's the time, you say to yourself as you cruise around the questionable districts of Hamilton-Wentworth. You see a woman standing on a corner who either A) matches the general physical characteristics of your ideal sexual fantasy or B) looks like a hooker. You pull over the car, you do the negotiation thing and she hops into the passenger seat.

But then your plan begins to unravel. She says she's actually an undercover cop, and demands to see your driver's license. Holding your I.D. hostage, she then says that unless you pay a $200 fine, she'll run you in and tell your family. You'll look like a total jackass and, oh man, that's all you need. So you fork over the cash. She hops out of the car, after explaining that you have to go to the police station to retrieve your license and receipt for paying the fine. You glumly drive to the station, and when you explain your situation to an officer, he attempts to hide the smirk on his face.

You've been had by a new breed of con artist. The woman was not an undercover officer at all -- she just fleeced you. You're not the first, however, and because she's still at large, you won't be the last.

In the past month, the Hamilton-Wentworth police department has seen several poor saps walk through its doors, thinking they were busted. What's puzzling to authorities is that descriptions of the con woman vary from sucker to sucker. Nobody really knows what she looks like. But one thing is common to all cases: She never shows a police badge. Which makes the men feel like even bigger suckers.

"The problem is, people are embarrassed to report the incident," detective Gary Ostofi of Hamilton-Wentworth told the Toronto Star. "Who would want to report that they picked up a prostitute and they were taken for a fool?"

Police are quick to point out that real cops posing as hookers do not fine people at the scene of a solicitation. Unlucky johns are simply issued a notice to appear in court.

The lesson, clearly, is that one should use common sense when procuring a prostitute.

By Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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